The revised Energy Efficiency Directive (EU/2023/1791), officially published in the Official Journal on September 20, 2023, signifies a substantial elevation in the EU's ambitions concerning energy efficiency. This update introduces 'energy efficiency first' as a foundational principle in EU energy policy, granting it legal status for the first time. Essentially, this mandates EU countries to consider energy efficiency in all relevant policy and major investment decisions across both energy and non-energy sectors. This revision follows the Commission's proposal for a recast directive on energy efficiency presented in July 2021 as part of the EU Green Deal package. The 2021 proposal underwent further enhancement within the REPowerEU plan, introduced by the Commission in May 2022, aiming specifically to reduce the EU's reliance on fossil fuel imports from Russia.
As part of the initial Fit for 55 package, the European Commission unveiled a proposal to revise the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) on July 14, 2021 (COM/2021/558 final). Initially adopted in 2012, the EED was designed to aid the EU and its Member States in achieving energy efficiency improvements of at least 20% by 2020. The directive set a ceiling on total EU energy consumption and included provisions to collectively assist Member States in meeting this objective. In 2018, the EED underwent its first revision, increasing the energy efficiency improvement target to 32.5% by 2030, with each Member State mandated to achieve higher annual energy savings obligations (+0.8%).
Aligned with the Green Deal's commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2050, the need for accelerated and intensified energy efficiency improvements beyond existing legislation became apparent. This requirement prompted another revision of the EED under the Fit for 55 initiative.